THE rink may have been shut for a number of months now but Bradford Bulldogs were still able to stage their annual awards night – thanks to the wonders of modern technology.
The achievements of all our teams from Under-9s right through to the seniors were celebrated following another positive season on and off the ice.
Chairman Jonathan Lutwyche ‘compered’ the event, with club head coach Andy Brown dishing out the awards for the various teams, while more than 75 households logged on from their homes or on their phones.
“It was truly great to see most of our Bulldogs and friends alike,” said Jonathan. “It wasn’t the platform for the presentation we would have preferred–it was terrifying for Andy and me! But it did give us the chance to celebrate our achievements, thank all of those that make our club a great success, and praise all our players as they astound us year after year!’
As the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, we were left with a general feeling of what might have been, but the head coach reflected on some of the positives of the season.
‘Our Seniors had a great season and, but for a couple of slip-ups early in the campaign, could have pipped Hull Jets to the title – and who knows what could have happened in the playoffs if they had gone ahead?” he said.
“Obviously, it was a premature end to the season that nobody expected or wanted but, fingers crossed, the rink can be open sometime soon, hopefully within the next month or so.
“It’s going to be a bit different to how we’re used to doing things but I’m sure if we all approach it together in the right way we can enjoy another season of progress both on and off the ice and get back to playing great Bulldogs hockey!”
Andy added: “One of our biggest aims as a club is to ensure that we continue to produce quality hockey players year on year while, more importantly, also ensuring the kids get the most enjoyment out of it, both at practice and on game weekends.
“In this sense, our season was again successful in that we’ve seen more players come through and progress up the age groups once again which, as always, is pleasing to see.”
Here is a rundown of who won what …
- Players’ Player of the Year: Ian Thirkettle
- MVP: Josh Richardson
- Top Points Scorer: Josh Stockton
- Best Forward: Matt Viney
- Best Defence: Dean Boothroyd
- Best Netminder: Ian Thirkettle
- Most Improved: Connor Medley
- Clubman: Dave Williams
Head coach Andy Brown said: “It was our best season in a long, long time – I don’t remember finishing second since I was a lad. The season before we finished fourth and made the playoffs which was a great achievement and we’d set our targets of hitting the playoffs again.
“We knew it was going to be a tougher league this year and it was, it was much more competitive. We had some injury problems and we had quite a few penalty minutes which definitely wasn’t good and is certainly an area where we need to improve next season.
“We know we’ve got a good core of players who can compete and if we can keep five guys on the ice and we can keep everyone fit then we should be in contention again.
“Over the course of the season, Hull were probably the stronger team, they certainly had the most depth out of any team and perhaps they were the worthy league winners, but taking second was a great achievement for us.”
- Players’ Players of the Year: Alex Mitchell, Luke Cadman, Alex Lutwyche
- MVP: Alex Lutwyche
- Coach’s Player of the Year: Logan Jean-Jacques
- Top Points Scorer: Daniel Justovics
- Sportsmanship: Lucas Vince
- Best Forward: Daniel Justovics
- Best Defence: Alex Mitchell
- Best Netminder: Daniel Norton
- Most Improved: Jack Wooding
- Best Rookie: Kacper Andrukianiec
Head coach Andy Brown said: “We knew it was going to be a tough league and we set our sights, not to win the league, but we’d highlighted teams that we wanted to compete well against and keep the scoreline respectable etc and we more than achieved that.
“The parts I was disappointed with were largely out of our hands, some refereeing decisions were poor, at best, for example. But with the group of players that we had, I was really happy with what they managed to achieved.
“We initially felt if we could finish seventh out of the nine and avoid the bottom two, that would be good, but we ended up finishing fifth so we were well above target.”
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- Players’ Players of the Year: Jacob Brownlie and Jess Wooding
- MVP: Mathew Cross
- Coach’s Player of the Year: Tom Mardell
- Top Points Scorer: Damarni James
- Best Forward: Damarni James
- Best Defence: Mathew Cross
- Best Netminder: Dan Norton
- Sportsmanship: Jess Wooding
- Most Improved: Leo Peck
- Best Rookie: James Hornby.
- Players’ Player of the Year: Grace Cooper
- MVP: Grace Cooper
- Coach’s Player of the Year: James Adamson
- Top Points Scorer: Daragh Spawforth
- Best Forward: Daragh Spawforth
- Best Defence: Grace Cooper
- Best Netminder: James Adamson
- Sportsmanship: Jake Wigginton
- Most Improved: Tyler Hall
- Best Rookie: McKenzie Barker
Head coach Alex Jones said: “This season has been an interesting one for a variety of reasons. Whilst some may point to results or our position in the league as a reference, for me it’s been about development and having the right input to eventually achieve an output.
“We have focused on core skills development, positional understanding and responsibility via video analysis and tried to create a professional ethos that’s centered around respect and hard work.
“Despite some of the disappointments our team has been able to look at the positives and be pragmatic about the work we have needed to do to improve which considering we had players as young as 9 playing up is testament to the commitment and love of the game these kids have.
“Well done Bulldogs, a season you should be proud of, I know I am.”
- Players’ Players of the Year: Danny Harrison and Jacob Mardell
- MVP: Frankie O’Sullivan
- Coach’s Player of the Year: Kieran Smith
- Best Forward: Danny Harrison
- Best Defence: Ed Donovan
- Best Netminder: Jacob Mardell
- Best Rookie: Charlie Barker
- Most Improved: Sam Bain
Team manager Lee Farrow said: “As young players stepping into a very competitive league, our players really rose to the challenge and had a great shortened season in 2019-20. “There were some thrilling matches where our young pups dug deep and pulled a win out of the bag.
“We had a real chance to make the Nationals before the season was cut short and I know that had we been successful, they would have all given 110 per cent. We’re all sad to see our team-mates move up to Under-13’s but also look forward to welcoming some new players from the Under-9s next season.”
As is tradition, there are no specific awards handed out for the club’s youngest team. Head coach Andy Brown said that the amount of promising youngsters he saw currently coming through the Under-9s was exciting, offering many reasons to be cheerful about the club’s ability to continue bringing young talent through.
Team manager Nicola Steel said: “The 2019/20 season was another enjoyable and successful one for our group of new and slightly more experienced players. Every player took big steps forward in their development, some making the most of playing up with the Under-11s.
“We are looking forward to the new season as and when we are able to start and would welcome any new players to our group.”